Treatment for nephrotic syndrome depends on the cause and the age of the person who has the condition. Medicines, changes in diet, and care for other conditions, such as Reference diabetes Opens New Window or high blood pressure, are all possible treatments for this syndrome. These treatments may reverse, slow, or prevent further kidney damage.
Most children who have nephrotic syndrome do well with treatment and have a normal life expectancy.
Doctors define complete recovery as living without symptoms or treatment for more than 2 years.
Treatment of nephrotic syndrome depends on the cause of the disease and may include:
- Reference Corticosteroids, such as prednisone or prednisolone, to reduce swelling.
- Reference Diuretics to reduce fluid buildup in the body (edema) and to help with reducing sodium, potassium, and water. Fluid reduction should occur slowly to avoid further kidney damage and low blood pressure.
- Medicines, such as Reference angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and Reference angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), to reduce the amount of protein lost in the urine, lower blood pressure, and slow the progress of the disease.
- In rare cases, salt-free albumin given through a vein (IV). Albumin helps remove extra fluid from the tissues.
First treatments can last from 6 to 15 weeks, often longer in adults. Depending on how severe your symptoms are or whether they return, ongoing treatment may be needed for months to years, or even for the rest of your life.
Ongoing treatment for nephrotic syndrome and complications of the disease include:
- Daily or alternate-day Reference prednisone, if nephrotic syndrome returns.
- Reference Cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, or mycophenolate mofetil, when treatment with corticosteroids is not successful.
- Steps to lower blood pressure, including medicine, a healthier diet, and exercise. Untreated Reference high blood pressure Opens New Window increases your risk for Reference stroke Opens New Window or Reference heart attack Opens New Window. For more information, see the topics Reference High Blood Pressure, Reference Coronary Artery Disease, and Reference Stroke.
- Changes in Reference diet to replace nutrients lost through the urine, reduce fluid buildup in the body, and reduce the risk of complications. Some doctors prescribe a diet that limits protein, salt (sodium), and fats but is high in carbohydrates. The amount of protein allowed may vary, depending on your condition.
- Reference Anticoagulants, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or heparin, to treat blood clots if they form.
- Early treatment of infections with antibiotics.
- Vaccinations with a pneumococcal vaccine (What is a Reference PDF Opens New Window document?), Reference chickenpox (varicella) Opens New Window vaccine, and a yearly flu shot. Vaccination is not recommended until nephrotic syndrome has responded to treatment with corticosteroids.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements to protect your bones and help prevent Reference osteoporosis Opens New Window during long-term corticosteroid treatment (for example, prednisone).
You may need emotional support during treatment for nephrotic syndrome. If you or your child has nephrotic syndrome and you are having a hard time handling treatment or the severity of your child's condition, it may help to talk with a doctor or seek Reference counseling Opens New Window.
Treatment if the condition gets worse
Sometimes treatment for nephrotic syndrome is unsuccessful. If this occurs, you may develop Reference chronic kidney disease Opens New Window. Your doctor may recommend that you begin Reference hemodialysis, Reference peritoneal dialysis, or consider a Reference kidney transplant. For more information, see the topic Reference Chronic Kidney Disease.
Reference Clinical trials Opens New Window are ongoing to test more effective medicines for the treatment of steroid-resistant (relapsing) nephrotic syndrome. If treatment has not successfully controlled your nephrotic syndrome, ask your doctor about clinical trials. To take part in a clinical trial, you may need to travel to a large treatment center.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 7, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Tushar J. Vachharajani, MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology